Tuesday, May 15, 2007

The Day Mike Furches Had Dinner With Jerry Falwell (RIP Jerry)

It has been over 20 years ago, but yep, I once had a special invite to sit down personally with Jerry Falwell to have a discussion and to have lunch together. I was involved in ministry at the time, promoting concerts and doing some speaking and all. I was, what one could say, "a hot up in comer." That is what I felt anyway, and when I got the invitation from Reverend Falwell I didn’t think that much about it.

I have to admit, I was never a big fan of Jerry Falwell, oh, don’t get me wrong, I appreciated his passion, I appreciated the times I personally heard him speak and his relentless support of the Gospel, but there was just something about the political movement that didn’t sit right with me. I don’t know, call me crazy, but for the longest of times, most of my life actually, I never quite understood the need to incorporate religion and politics and put them in the same bed together.

I went to that dinner some years ago now at a hotel in Wichita Kansas. To my shock I was surprised when I arrived and there were like 20 other people in that meeting, it wasn’t an exclusive or anything like I thought but sure enough, there he was, Brother Jerry himself. I was amazed; he looked and sounded just like he did on television. He was still quite big at the time, (not just a physical sense) and it was the start of his hey day of getting the Moral Majority up and going.

While there, I got to ask a few questions, talk about a few things, and to be honest, I never felt like he really appreciated me and was wondering how I was even invited. I haave always been kind of stubborn, letting people know what I thought and all. I guess over the years I have learned some tact but I honestly don't think I would respond much different now than I did 20+ years ago. I don’t know how I was invited there myself, I just know I was and while I wasn’t the only one with him, I was there with about 20 others, and it was obvious I was not one of the major fans of some of the things that was going on. I'll give him and his people credit though, they never asked me to leave. I enjoyed my meal, and the time interacting with those there, including Dr. Falwell.

The meeting started to conclude and something happened that I always had issue with, still do in fact. Jerry started asking point blank, people at the luncheon for money to support his ministry and this new political group he was getting started, The Moral Majority. I can’t say how amazed and shocked I was, but in just a few moments, he had over $10,000 given to him by the folks at the meeting. Again, I don’t know why I was there, neither do I know how they expected to get any money from me as I lived on the poverty level at the time. You know about the vow of poverty people in ministry take don’t you? Well, in those days, and still yet I guess, I took that quite literally. I’ll be honest about it, I actually had nightmares for about a week of Jerry Falwell asking me directly for money and me not having any to give. Shucks I thought the meeting was about a free meal and an exchange of ideas at the time.

Now why do I bring all of this up? Well unless you haven’t heard, Brother Jerry died this morning at the age of 73 in his office at Liberty University. It is suspected that he died of a heart problem but we don’t know for sure. Personally I don’t expect anything suspicious. Now I bring this up as a reminder that many of us have a life to live. While I disagreed with a lot of things about Falwell, it is obvious he was passionate about his beliefs and lived life to the fullest. He established a university that I actually respect, Liberty University in Lynchburg Virginia. He also, especially in his early years, led a lot of people to faith in Christ. Many of those were people agreeing with his theology, and others going their own path. Bottom line is that Falwell lived out his convictions, and agree or disagree; one has to have some level of admiration for that. The man was charismatic in a lot of ways, like I said earlier, being able to get at least $10,000 out of about 20 people was rather remarkable then, would be now.

Life goes on, even after some of those we have watched over the years passes on. For many of us, we will one day be one of those who have passed on. I guess the question I have at that point is what kind of an impression will we leave on others? What kind of an impact will we have left behind? I guess for each of us the answer to those questions will be different. I will say this, despite my disagreements with Jerry Falwell, I honestly expect to see him in Heaven someday. At that point, politics won’t be an issue, the actions of the church won’t be an issue, how we related to each other won’t be an issue, and certainly the fact that I didn’t give any money at the luncheon we had together won’t be an issue. I suspect that then, and for him, now, those things just don’t matter so much. I guess the saddest thing is that the truth is, for far to many of us, those things matter way to much now, then again, I guess that depends on how much you mix in politics and religion. I know there is a place for it, and unfortunately for some politics seems to be more important than faith. I feel sorry for those folks, and hopefully just as Jerry Falwell now knows, we will all realize at some point, there is true liberty in knowing Christ.

Now as I do my regular speal about giving money and supporting the work of The Virtual Pew, I know I’m no Jerry Falwell, but your support is appreciated. It has to do with taking a vow of poverty, but still having to pay the bills. If you can give, great, if not, don't worry about it, I didn't give to Jerry Falwell, I don't expect you to give to this ministry unless God leads you or you just feel compelled. Now check out some of the links and have a great day. While you're at it, try to think of Jerry, the ministry he left behind, family and those he touched.

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